The Science of Removing Makeup

makeup removal techniquesHello, ladies!  It’s been QUITE some time since I last submitted an article to Sister House; life has been a real monster for awhile now.  Late is better than never, I guess, so here is an article on a subject that I don’t talk about enough: makeup removal.  I know, I hate taking my war paint off as much as the next woman, but sooner or later it has to be done.  Otherwise, your skin will suffer the consequences in the form of blemishes, pimples, and blackheads.  Makeup residue can also leave your skin looking dull and lifeless (much the same effect as cigarette smoke).  It clogs the pores and doesn’t allow the necessary oils to get to the surface and lubricate your skin.

The first step in removing your makeup is to get your hair out of the way.  Pull your hair away from your face and use either a headband or a ponytail holder, or clips if your hair is short. For colored hair, protect your hairline as much as possible.  You’ve probably noticed that the color around your hairline seems to fade faster than in other areas. This is partially due to products, including makeup, that inevitably end up there and are washed off along with the hair color.

You should pick a cleanser that’s suitable for your skin type, one that’s also been tested for the removal or breakdown of makeup. Some soaps and cleansers don’t thoroughly cleanse your skin; others may be too harsh for you. Check the packaging to see if the product is designed for makeup removal, or, if you’re comfortable going out, ask a makeup salesperson for advice.  If possible, test the remover on a small section of your skin to see how you react to it.

Splash your face with lukewarm water.  Place a dollop of cleanser in the center of one hand and rub your hands together to generate some lather. Continue to add water as necessary and apply the lather to your entire face.  Rub it on gently, concentrating on the places where you applied your makeup the heaviest.  Don’t apply this to the eyes unless you have a cleanser that says it can be used there!  Remember to hit everywhere you have applied your makeup, including under the jaw line and at the ears.  If you apply makeup to create cleavage, you should do this to your chest as well.

Remember that you should always work in an upward fashion when you remove your makeup.  This helps the skin work against gravity and aids the elastin and collagen under the skin in doing their job.  Spend about a minute retracing your path to ensure that you’ve cleaned your whole face, then rinse with clear water three or four times.  This will make sure that you’ve removed all of the cleanser, as well as any makeup residue.

Your eyes will require a little more work.  Most mascaras and liners can be a bit stubborn in coming off.  Avoid washing off eye makeup with face cleanser (unless it states on the packaging that it can be used as such), as it’s generally too harsh and drying for this delicate area.  Moisten a cotton ball with eye makeup remover and remove all traces of makeup by gently wiping each eye until the makeup dissolves.  Be patient, as this may take a little bit of time.

Glitter makeup is a special case!  You’ll need to be extra careful, especially with glitter eye shadows, as these can actually scratch your skin, or far worse, your eye, if not removed gently and correctly.  Moisten the cotton ball as usual, but instead of rubbing it on your eye, just let it sit there a moment or so, lightly smoothing it on the skin.  This will loosen the glitter from the skin and the cotton ball will pick it up.  Make sure that you do this with both upper and lower lids, to get any glitter residue that may have fallen.  Be extra diligent in your face cleansing afterward; sleeping with glitter on can cause small abrasions or even cuts to your skin.

After you remove all of your makeup, remember to moisturize!  You’ve just removed all of the necessary oils that your skin requires to be healthy.  Splash your face again with a little bit of warm water (to open the pores a bit and aid in absorption) and apply your moisturizer, as well as any eye creams or other protections you may use.  Give your skin a moment or two to absorb the moisturizer, then lightly pat your face dry if necessary.

A quick note: if your face feels tight when you’re finished, you’ve probably used too harsh a cleanser.  You should seek something lighter, that won’t leave you feeling like your skin is stretched taut.  This can lead to serious skin issues.

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